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Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chairing the first cabinet meeting at the PM secretariat.—Online Photo
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chairing the first cabinet meeting at the PM secretariat.—Online Photo

ISLAMABAD: Presiding over the first meeting of his cabinet on Monday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif gave his ministers a tough talk, asking them to deliver on promises made by the PMLN in its election manifesto, set priorities and targets within two weeks, reduce non-development expenditure by 30 per cent, put the economy back on track, eradicate poverty and minimise loadshedding. He also warned them against failure.

There was pin drop silence as Mr Sharif made the opening remarks at the meeting. He encouraged the ministers to work hard and warned of strict action against anyone found wanting, according to a source privy to the meeting.

The source said although it was an introductory sitting, the prime minister used the occasion to candidly put across the message of how he expected the new cabinet to work.

He asked them to set priorities and targets within two weeks and said: “I will review your performance and I will not like you to fail.”

He particularly advised them to study the party’s manifesto and see “what are the commitments the PML-N has made to the people”. He asked them to reduce all non-development expenditures by at least 30 per cent. Talking about the challenges his government is facing at the moment, Mr Sharif said: “We need to put the economy back on track, eradicate poverty, eliminate intolerance and reduce loadshedding, inflation and, above all, isolation at the international level.”

The prime minister repeatedly warned his cabinet colleagues against what he called the culture of lethargy and personal whims and wishes. He said corruption and corrupt practices had severely affected the affairs of the state, adding that his government could meet the challenges if it remained corruption-free.

On the peaceful democratic transition, the prime minister said the people deserved best possible compliments because they had rejected all rumours about delays in elections and participated in the electoral process with great zeal. He underscored the importance of a government with undiluted mandate and said: “Governments with fractured mandate cannot solve any problem. Such governments have to compromise on principles and ideologies and the current state of affairs has no room for making such compromises. People have pinned high hopes on us, so we have to deliver accordingly.”

Mr Sharif also spoke on the massive circular debt and said it was the most immediate challenge which his government would like to address sooner rather than later. He said circular debt had reached the enormous level of Rs503 billion. “Even if we retire this debt there is no guarantee that this will not reappear unless we put in place a comprehensive plan to avert future problems,” he added.

About loadshedding, the prime minister said his government would have to see whether it could set up new plants because thermal power was extremely expensive. At the same time, he said, the government would try to remove line losses and end pilferage. “We will punish all those responsible for this crisis which is causing great discomfort to the people.”

Since the victory of his party in the elections, Mr Sharif has been holding meetings to find a sustainable solution to the power crisis.

He said public sector entities such as PIA and Steel Mills had been haemorrhaging the national economy, adding that his government was exploring the possibility of privatisation and public-private partnerships under the stewardship of competent chief executive officers appointed on merit.

The prime minister didn’t say much about the issue of extremism, militancy and sectarianism. “All efforts will be made to rid the country of these ills.”

Similarly on the issue of drone attacks, he said the government had already taken notice of these and registered its strong protest at an appropriate level. “Drone attacks are a violation of national sovereignty and will never be tolerated.”

Comments (14) Closed

Syed Tanwir Hasan Jun 11, 2013 07:31am

Steel Mill and PIA should be privatized at the earliest. There is no other solution.

asif Jun 11, 2013 07:37am

every politician, every media person in this country knows what is wrong and we have become very proficient at highlighting our problems. unfortunately, we are not brave enough to actually tackle what we speak of.

malick Jun 11, 2013 07:56am

My dear PM please do not insult our ministers, these are not selected by you but elected by the people of Pakistan. People will not tolrate if these are pushed to work hard. They are flowers keep them in a bucket and hang up. Let them sleep and dream. They are extremely tired by making promises during election.

Muzaffar Qureshi Jun 11, 2013 08:20am

Dear Mr. Prime Minister, Your advice to the Honourable Ministers, fills me with hope for the future of Pakistan. I am sure they will keep in mind that the campaign for ELECTION 2018 begins NOW!

Oracle Jun 11, 2013 08:21am

Have to say that the PML-N show is better than that of PTI Jun 11, 2013 09:04am

good going nawaz sharif

nanafarooqi Jun 11, 2013 09:11am

good going nawaz sharif

TamzaK Jun 11, 2013 09:33am

I wait with bated breath for action and positive outcome, starting with a smaller cabinet. That alone could achieve 10% of the cost cut. There are 15 cabinet departments (ie Secretary of xx ) in the US, 22 in the UK, 35 in India, 43 (24 ministers and 19 ministers-of-state) in Bangladesh, and Congo has shrunk from 48 to 38.

So the 'larger' and 'stronger' the nation, the fewer the ministers-members in the cabinet.

It is hard to tell how many there are sitting at the 'table' in the photo; would have been much better communication and visually if they had sat 'classroom' style rather than at this large 'table'.

Zur Khan Jun 11, 2013 10:32am


Usman Jun 11, 2013 10:36am

A small but important suggestion: the meeting rooms for these cabinet (and other) meetings need to be made smaller where participants sit closer to each other. It would ensure eye-contact as well as a more personal information exchange. A cue can be taken from corporate board meetings setup or even those of the US/UK governments or any other developed nations.

KhanChengezKhan Jun 11, 2013 11:54am

Since the faces in this new cabinet are the same as they had been in their previous two governance, therefore, it is not hoped that great changes will come in its present tenor. Example; Lions will not eat grass and horses will not meat even they dies. Those who have spent millions in their election process will not sit quite until they make their millions into billions. Most of this new cabinet is the businessmen and businessmen always look forward to multiply their investments. They cannot bear any losses in their businesses.

faisal Jun 11, 2013 01:07pm

@Syed Tanwir Hasan:

Add railways to the list.

mohammad shafique Jun 11, 2013 05:22pm

for pakistanis, nawaz sharifs shadow boxing on drones will not do....he must order the military to shoot down the drones violating pakistani airspace.

anony Jun 11, 2013 07:41pm

Maybe 3rd time is the charm? I don't think so. If this guy has failed "Miserably" during his last 2 stints as the prime minister, I'm not keeping my hopes high for him to be a good leader and not be involved in corruption.